Although it’s not given as much attention as the face, it’s very important to learn how to master drawing ears to complete any portrait.
Here are some steps:
How to draw the ear from the side
Begin by creating an outline of the shape of the ear by making sure that the top part of the ear or the helix is bigger than the bottom part of the ear or the ear lobe.
Once you have this, it’s time to give the ear more depth by adding the bumps and folds. Draw the first curve from the top to the middle part of the ear and make it smooth or jagged depending on your preferences.
Make sure to leave a small space around the edge and make the left side of the curve slightly curled into the middle of the ear.
From the first curve, draw the second curve with a tear-shaped bottom and wrap the curve to form the flap or tragus of the ear. Leave some space at the bottom of the ear lobe like you did with the first curve.
Once you have the outline finished, you can start defining the lines more and shade your ear to give it more character.
To do this, try to picture where your light is coming from to decide which parts of the ear should have the lightest and darkest shadows. Use a 4B pencil and shade the bumps lighter while the deeper parts of the ear darker.
Shading will allow you to emphasize the deepest valleys and folds of the ear. Add a third shape on the ear that resembles a small letter “y” but make this as light as possible.
If there are any shadows crossing through this shape when shading, warp them so they compliment the bumps, ridges and valleys of the “y.”
To complete your drawing, add lighter and mid tones using an HB pencil by following the same rule of keeping bumps light and valleys dark.
You can also use a blending stump to add more depth into the drawing and a kneaded eraser for the lightest areas of your ear.
How to draw the ear from the front
After you’ve mastered drawing the ear from the side perspective, it’s time to move on to the front view. Drawing the ear from this angle gives you the opportunity to add more life to it by emphasizing mass or thickness.
Start by looking closely at a 3D representation of an ear to really understand its anatomy and distinct characteristics.
If you’re ready to start drawing, imagine the ear from the side view with some thickness. This is because drawing the outline of the ear from the front is almost similar to doing it from the side, only compressed in a smaller space.
Follow the first step to outlining the ear from the side and work your way into the curve inside the ear by drawing the flap as it goes down and around while the upper curve travels up and around the ear.
The tricky part is adding the “y” shape of the ear because it goes past beyond the outer part of the ear in most cases before it goes down to the lower part of the ear.
Don’t expect to get it right the first time, so make your lines light and look at your reference closely until you get the right shape. Like most drawings, you need to study 3D shapes and refine your technique as you go.
How to draw the ear from the back
Although it’s not often that you find a drawing that highlight’s the person’s ear from the rear view, it’s still very important to understand and learn this technique should you need it in the future. This will also help you brush up on your drawing skills by getting a better perspective of the 3D shape of the ear from every angle.
Begin your drawing by creating an outline of the back view silhouette of the ears. Think of this as if you’re drawing a face from the back with the ears included this time.
If you want to make it more detailed, you have to pay attention to the muscles that stretch from the back to the base of the skull to really emphasize the ear’s structure even from the back. It also helps to touch your ear to feel its shape so you know what details to fill in when you start putting the details.
The first line of your drawing should be the one defining the outer rim of your ear that rolls up and over the skin where your ear attaches to the head. Then, draw a cylindrical shape that will represent the deep part of your inner ear, which is slim at the base and wider towards the outside.
It really takes a lot of practice to master the art of drawing ears. But the great thing is, you can always refer to your own ear or study your family and friends’ ears from different angles so you can get a better perspective of the details that you need to make the ears come to life in your drawings.